The Obama Administration is reportedly offering a possible plea bargain to the detained Pfc Bradley Manning, if he agrees to testify against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that Assange pressured him to release the various classified documents.
Manning is facing several decades in a military prison over his alleged role in the releases, but as an active duty member of the military he is being charged under the military’s legal code, not the civilian one.
Which makes charging Julian Assange, who seems to be the administration’s primary target, considerably more difficult, as he is neither an American citizen nor a member of the American military, nor indeed were any of his alleged misdeeds committed on American soil.
This makes the Justice Department’s hopes of prosecuting him extremely difficult, but right now those efforts seem to be centering on claims Assange could be charged with conspiracy for “encouraging” Manning. The only evidence to that effect is a chatlog, and would almost certainly be dismissed as hearsay unless they can convince Manning to testify as well.
Sources say that the administration has yet to determine exactly what sort of plea bargain it is planning to offer Manning for incriminating Assange, but the bidding may well begin with a pillow and sheets, both of which Manning has been barred from having in detention. Amid reports of his deteriorating health, it remains to be seen how the administration may be able to coerce him into cutting a deal.